Liners urge VPA to initiate key tasks to boost sector
As Visakhapatnam Port Authority (VPA) gets all set to launch its much-awaited Vizag International Cruise Terminal (VICT) stakeholders opine on leveraging the resources to make Port City a cruise destination of the country.
As per sources, AP is the third most popular tourist destination for domestic travellers attracting 14% of national footfalls.
In the recently concluded G20 Global Investors Summit in Visakhapatnam, Oberoi Group and Taj Group have announced hefty investments to establish luxury hotels and resorts in Visakhapatnam.
This coupled with other mega infrastructure projects the cruise industry is gearing up for bigger times ahead.
Speaking to Vizag Industrial Scan, Visakhapatnam Port Authority Chairman Dr M Angamuthu, IAS, said, “VPA is in touch with 3 cruise liners – Cordelia, Royal Caribbean, and MSC cruises. They are expected to start the cruise services from November 2023. However, one passenger vessel to Andaman is expected to be berthed at the VICT during the 1st week of September 2023.”
He also added that VPA along with other agencies is working on the 5 vital components of the tourism system – Attraction, Accessibility, Accommodation, Amenities, and Activities.
Albeit the efforts in setting up of the cruise terminal is lauded stakeholders opine that cruise liners need modern cruise terminals to get a seamless docking facility and efficient facilitation as many people board and de-board simultaneously.
For this security, customs, immigration, baggage, and transportation handling needs to be done very systematically and fast. Therefore, infrastructure, destinations, and efficient procedures become key to making the city a port of call for cruise liners.
It is also very important that the attractions in and around Vizag are enhanced and developed in a responsible and sustainable manner to provide a holistic and comfortable experience for visitors.
Mr. Sanjay Basu, Chairman, Far Horizon Tours Pvt Ltd, opined, “Vizag is a bustling city with a great maritime history. Presently Vizag does not feature on any major tourist circuit and making it a cruise destination will leapfrog the city into a strong tourist map.”
The cruise liners should also ensure that the right approach is taken and a uniform policy is made as India is an emerging cruise market. India has the potential to attract cruise liners, provided there are representations made and proper itineraries are in place.
“The Visakhapatnam Port needs to have a committee of stakeholders comprising state government authorities, central government, travel agents, and cruise companies to attract tourists across Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states,” said Mr. K Vijay Mohan, President, Tours and Travels Association of AP, adding that the need of the hour is to have a systematic and right approach along with collective effort instead of working in silos.
Synchronizing a cruise port location with the time and speed preferences of cruise lines, particularly the possibility of being included in itineraries involving several ports, is vital.
Sources from VPT stated that cruises are usually set up as loops. About 80% of all cruises end up in their port of origin. VICT shall be Ports of call en route to Colombo, Chennai or Singapore. With cruise passenger satisfaction being the foundation of cruise shipping, the port is working on all the factors to become a Port of call and host cruise passenger movements.
Mr.Sekhar Rozario, Ship manager, The Bengal Paddle, said, “Vizag is no doubt a good destination for the cruise liners. It attracts tourists from both sides of the country and a cruise will help connect the East and West. That is towards Gujarat/Mumbai in the west and towards Assam/Kolkata/Bihar on the east.”